Modifying Employee Behavior and Motivating Employees
Don Tyler, Owner, Tyler & Associates
Clarks Hill, IN 47930
Modifying Employee Behavior:
1.) Changing behaviors has always been tough. Whether it involves an addiction; smoking,
alcohol, controlled substances— a compulsion; eating, shopping, perfectionism—or our
simple daily habits and routines, we all have areas that are hard to change.
2.) Some habits are good for us. They keep us efficient, and allow us to do regular, mundane
tasks while thinking about something else. Some, like exercise, may be very beneficial to
our long-term health and well-being.
3.) Other habits are harmful. They detract us from more productive and fulfilling endeavors
or may be detrimental to our health.
B.) Why is it so hard to change habits?
The brain is wired for efficiency. If we do something repetitively, it finds new
pathways that are more efficient. These pathways become entrenched in our minds and
the more they are used, the more that path becomes a “rut”.
C.) So how do we make significant strides in behavior change?
1.) Discipline—this method has been used for generations. The problem is that many people
are just not very disciplined, so counting on this as a method to change our behaviors can
2.) Desire—this method is much more successful. If we can focus on WHY we want to
change we will be much more successful. Focusing on the end result is much more
reliable because it doesn’t require discipline or the need to do something that seems like a
D.) The Process Of Modifying Behaviors in Others (or Ourselves):
1.) Clearly define why the change needs to occur.
2.) Define the desired outcome. Be specific.
3.) Give a time or a date that the change needs to occur.
4.) Set a time each week that you will discuss the current issue and continue to meet until the
desired change takes place.
5.) Provide encouragement and feedback throughout the change process.
6.) Keep your expectations clear and focused.
7.) Don’t try to change too much at one time. Work with one issue at a time.
E.) Pitfalls to avoid:
1.) Don’t change your objective or reduce your standards.
2.) Don’t lose focus on why you need to modify the behavior.
3.) Don’t assume that if the person does it right a couple of times that you have changed
their habit. You may have changed their actions in a short period of time, but not their
F.) Key points to remember:
1.) Remember that habits take at least 21 days of consistently doing it a new way before the
behavior is actually modified.
2.) If we focus on the WHY (desire) we will be much more successful and the process will
not be as uncomfortable.
3.) The main benefit to this behavior change model is that the employee can decide for
themselves if making the change is worth the effort. We won’t need to dismiss them
from the job because of poor behaviors. They will leave on their own if they don’t think
it’s worth it to change.
4.) The other employees in our business are always watching how the employer handles
situations with other employees. This method of behavior change shows the other
employees that we are willing and able to help people modify their behavior, and will
also show them that we care enough about their fellow employees to help them any way
that we can.
G.) An Example of Behavior Modification:
In this example, we’ll use the challenge of modifying an employee’s behavior that has
had difficulty getting to work on time……..
Step #1—Clearly define why the change is needed.
Meet with the employee one-on-one and discuss their tardiness.
Identify if there are any simple reasons for their tardiness and help them come up with
solutions they can implement.
Help them understand the affect that their tardiness has on the other employees and their
Step #2—Describe the desired outcome.
Clearly define when they are to be at work and by what time they should be starting their
actual work responsibilities.
Tell them that you will be monitoring their arrival time every day.
Step #3—Give them a date that the change needs to occur by.
Tell them that they need to be at work on time consistently for 21 days in a row.
Step # 4—Set a time for follow up discussion.
Let them know that you will be meeting with them to discuss their progress next week on
the same day at the same time (or a time that is convenient for you).
Step #5—Provide encouragement and feedback during the process.
Let them know when they are on time, and when they are not.
Encourage them and remind them of the importance of fairness to other employees.
Step #6—Review progress and continue to encourage them.
After they have achieved the desired result let them know that you appreciate their efforts
and that you expect them to continue to arrive on time.
Motivation vs. Movement
Motivation is someone doing what needs to be done, and doing it for their own reasons.
Movement is someone doing what needs to be done, but only doing it for someone else’s
Under many circumstances movement is an acceptable method to get tasks completed if
motivation is not existent.
I. What you need to know about Motivation:
1.) Motivation is an “inside job”.
2.) You can’t motivate any other person.
3.) All people have things that motivate them.
4.) Not all performance issues are a function of motivation.
5.) People do things for their own reasons, not our reasons.
6.) If you treat all people the same, you are probably mistreating most of the people.
II. Basic Elements of Motivation (that we can affect):
Self-confidence how you feel about yourself, your skills, and your ability to perform in a
variety of situations.
Competence is your knowledge, skills and abilities.
“The only way to actually motivate someone with lasting results is
build their competence and self-confidence at the same time.”
III. An Action Plan for Affecting Motivation:
1.) Train new people in basic skills.
2.) Explain what you expect of employees and recognize when they accomplish the task.
3.) Have an orientation process that explains the “big picture” of the business and how their
tasks fit into the overall performance of the operation.
4.) Teach tasks which must be done in a specific way to be done in a specific way—no
creativity allowed for these tasks! Tell them which tasks can be done with a little self-
expression or personal preference. In these tasks, keep them focused on clear results
within a given time allotment—rather than on a specific process.
5.) Teach specific/detailed tasks in small “vignettes”—very small sections—that focus on a
particular piece of a larger procedure. This is especially true in data entry, animal
treatment procedures (i.e. AI or piglet processing) and record keeping.
6.) Recognize when people do something extra or go out of their way to do their job the best
way possible. If people don’t feel that anyone noticed extra effort, they will cease
putting in extra effort.
7.) Be flexible enough in your training so that people can learn at their own pace. Fast-
learners get bored easily if they have to learn at too slow of a pace.
8.) Have a plan for continual training and increasing responsibilities.
9.) Provide cross-training when appropriate.
10.) Review skills and procedures on a regular basis to maintain competency over time.
11.) Set goals for the development of your staff and yourself. Determine production,
efficiency and skill levels that you want to achieve by the end of each year or at the end
of each evaluation period. Accomplishment can provide great satisfaction.
“People are motivated when they realize that they have more
skill and more potential than they thought they did.”
1.) Recognize when a job is done correctly and on time and tell the employee that you
noticed and appreciate their effort and skill.
2.) Praise for extra effort and look for times when people go out of their way.
3.) Compliment people and say good things about other staff members.
4.) Focus on the positive aspects of a person’s abilities.
5.) Tell people that they are making progress and learning new skills.
6.) Tell people that you believe in their skills and have faith in their ability to use those
7.) Encourage your staff to praise and compliment other staff members. It’s not just the
manager’s job to praise.
8.) Don’t let bad habits continue. Most people are offended if you try to correct behaviors
they have been doing wrong for a long time. They would prefer you let them know as
soon as possible if they are doing something the “wrong way”.
9.) Correcting the way someone does a task is a part of management. Be certain that as you
make corrections you focus on the actual activity and not the person. Avoid words, body
language and tonality that indicate anger or impatience.
10.) Recognize the difference between correcting actions and correcting behaviors. Actions
can be taught and changed very rapidly, behaviors are a result of habits, and habits take at
least 21 days of continually doing it a different way to completely change the behavior.
11.) Keep a positive attitude and atmosphere while training and improving competence.
12.) Don’t pass out blame—focus on solving problems and achieving the overall production
13.) Increase your belief that things will go well, that all situations are manageable and that
people want to do their best job.
14.) Don’t forget how much the trainer’s attitude has to do with the attitude of the trainee.
15.) Remember—it’s all right to be enthusiastic!
Build competence and self-confidence at the same time. As you are training people in new
skills, help build their self-confidence by encouraging them, helping them modify their
behaviors and activities, and developing a sense of teamwork.
IV. Other Considerations Concerning Motivation:
1.) People are more apt to believe that they “can”, if other people would quit telling them
that they “can’t.”
2.) Look at your work environment with an open mind and try to identify things that can be
dis-motivators to the staff. Here are some possibilities:
Equipment in poor repair.
Lack of interest in your employee’s personal circumstances.
Inconsistent company policies.
“Orders” from “higher up” in the organization which are illogical or impractical.
A perception that promotions are based on politics or favoritism more that
competence and performance.
Inconsistent application of discipline or company policy.
Lack of support from people in key decision-making roles.
Comments from managers or supervisors that portray laborers as “the little
people” or as insignificant to the operation.
Lack of follow-through on statements or promises made by key decision-makers
or management staff.
A perception of favoritism or preference to some employees over others.
Avoiding conflicts and hoping they will just “go away on their own.”
A perception that managers limit the development of their staff to protect their
position or preserve their level of authority.
Managers that complain about the “negative attitudes” of their staff, and then
privately or publicly complain about one employee to another.
Evidence that key decision-makers “can’t be trusted.”
Managers or supervisors openly complaining that, “We just can’t find any good
people these days.” This can make your employees feel they “aren’t any good.”
Not dealing with performance problems when they arise. Good employees are
dis-motivated when poor performance in other employees is allowed to continue.
3.) Identify the individual motivators of each of your staff members. If you can’t figure out
what they are, just ask them!……… What gives you satisfaction in your job? When it
comes right down to it, what’s really important to you? What’s the main reason you
come to work here every day? Once you determine their motivators, use that
information to help them see ways to achieve a higher level of satisfaction through the
things that motivate them personally.
4.) If a person admits that they are only there for a paycheck—go with it! Tell them that it’s
great that they know why they are working here—not everyone does—at least they know
why! Then, find out if it is alright with them for you (as the manager) to have a
“paycheck based” relationship with them. From this point on, you’ll focus on what it
takes for them to get their paycheck. If promotions or opportunities come up, you won’t
consider them because promotions only go to people that will put in extra effort when it
is needed. Establish that you appreciate working with them on a “paycheck only” basis,
since now you won’t have to be concerned with whether or not they are “happy.”
Believe it or not, this can be very powerful—and some people prefer this type of
relationship—knowing exactly what they expect of each other.
5.) If employees feel they need something new like a bonus program, a raise, better facilities,
new equipment or some other change in the workplace for them to be “more
motivated”—ask them some questions to see if that’s really the problem. “Why do you
think that those things will make you more motivated?” “Tell me why that is important
to you…..” “How will _________ make you more motivated?” Usually, you will find
out that they don’t feel appreciated enough, they need more recognition, they feel they
work harder than someone else, etc. Typically, when an employee brings this type of
solution to you, they haven’t accurately identified the problem—they’ve picked a band-
aid solution to the way they feel about their job. Through listening to them and asking
questions about their needs, you will find a solution that costs no money, works for a
longer period of time, and is more satisfying than what they proposed.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,
expecting different results”
For additional information on this topic and over 40 additional topics, go to www.dontyler.com
and review the topics included in “The Complete Guide To Managing Agricultural
Employees” or contact Don directly at 765-523-3259 or by e-mail at email@example.com.